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Tereza Swadoschová • Head of the Inspiration Forum, Ji.hlava IDFF

“Our audience is our muse”


- We sat down with Tereza Swadoschová, head of the Inspiration Forum at the Ji.hlava IDFF, to talk about this growing and increasingly important section of the Czech festival

Tereza Swadoschová  • Head of the Inspiration Forum, Ji.hlava IDFF

The Ji.hlava IDFF's Inspiration Forum is a discussion platform based on physical encounters and sharing common space as a valuable experience in the era of instant electronic communication. Since 2011, the festival has been bringing speakers from all strata of human and social experience to talk to filmmakers, students and the general public about topics that can spark a discussion, and inspire writers and directors in their future work. But 2018 is special: the Inspiration Forum will be expanding from three speakers – which it has had every year so far – to no fewer than 80.

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We spoke to Tereza Swadoschová, head of the Inspiration Forum at Ji.hlava IDFF, about this growing and increasingly important section of the festival.

Cineuropa: What is the purpose of the Inspiration Forum, and how did you decide to expand it from three speakers to 80
Tereza Swadoschová: The initial idea came up eight years ago. While watching all the documentaries over the years, we have realised that so many of them deal with similar or the same topics. That’s why Filip Remunda and Marek Hovorka have created a platform where filmmakers can look for new topics for documentary movies, be inspired and meet interesting personalities from outside the film world.

The Forum's speakers break stereotypes in the inspiring and original forms they use, and they go beyond the very nature of the problems discussed. For instance, last year, we hosted Polish journalist Katarzyna Surmiak-Domańska, who wrote the book Ku Klux Klan. Love Lives Here after visiting the very core of the KKK, where she tried to understand them, through a friendly and open approach. The next day, our speaker was Croatian theatre director Oliver Frljić, who staged the play The Curse in Poland, directly and brutally attacking the conservative roots of Polish society and bringing the worst of it to the theatre stage. We found the juxtaposition of these two approaches hugely interesting and important to showcase in a non-judgemental, open way in order to encourage debate and arouse interest in the audience.

Last year, we expanded the Inspiration Forum from three lectures to a six-day event, as we could see the audience’s interest and the positive effect that the Forum has on filmmakers.

What are the most important themes that you have decided to tackle this year in the Forum, and why?
We are looking at the next thing that’s going to hit. Every day, we focus on one topic from various perspectives: Faith and Religion in the Third Millennium, Future of Journalism, Education and the School of Tomorrow, The Crisis of the Left, Central Europe Between Two Worlds, and Artificial Intelligence and the Transformation of Humanity.

Who are the most interesting speakers you'd like to highlight this year?
It's hard to choose from so many, but for instance, there is Tadatoshi Akiba, a Japanese mathematician, campaigner against nuclear weapons and politician who served as the mayor of Hiroshima from 1999-2011; Emiliana Rodriguéz Morales, a reformer of the educational system in Mexico; the Cuban experimental poet and conceptualist who moves beyond specific music standards David D Omni; Polish AI researcher Aleksandra P Przegalinska; Aleksandr Rodionov, a Russian dramatist, screenwriter and collaborator with the Moscow TEATR.DOC; and Czech journalist Saša Uhlová, who recently mapped out the working conditions of unskilled and low-income workers in the Czech Republic, as well as many others.

How do you pick and attract all of these speakers? How hard is it to get some of them?
Speakers are often attracted to the Forum after they learn more about our approach, about the special atmosphere the festival is known for and about the special audience. I think the key is the festival and its diverse audiences (consisting of filmmakers, students, journalists, artists and professionals from other fields) who care about the world around them and enjoy thinking. One cannot meet such an audience at conferences or professional forums – our audience is our muse.

Ji.hlava is known as a place where filmmakers meet their audience personally and hear from them. The same goes for the Forum. We have created a space where people can hear ideas straight from academics, scientists, researchers, philosophers or reformers – ideas that are not filtered or distorted – and speakers can hear back from the audience.

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